WITH one in four young women aged between 16 and 24 self-harming, Swindon Mind has reminded youngsters that there is help and support out there for them this Mental Health Awareness Week.

The theme for Mental Health Awareness week this year is surviving or thriving, a cause that Janey Templer-Milligan, co-lead counsellor for Self Harmony at Swindon Mind, is keen to champion.

She said: "At Swindon Mind we offer a one-to-one confidential, non-judgemental counselling service in a safe environment for people who self-harm and self-injure.

"We have a team of specialist counsellors who help to empower our clients by building their self-esteem and help resolve emotional and psychological distress, allowing for a better quality of life."

Children and young people harm for a number of reasons and are expressing distress, which they cannot express verbally.

"Students face multiple stressors and these can range from trying to juggle their social connections, manage massive homework loads and parental or peer pressure," said Janey. "All of these can lead to young people feeling quite overwhelmed with life in general and this can impact on their mental wellbeing.

"There are also issues to contend with such as homesickness, sexuality, racism and harassment, disability, eating disorders, addictions including alcohol, drugs or gambling; the list is extensive.

"There are practical things that young people can do to help them through the difficult times at school, college or university. The first is to keep doing the things that matter to them and a routine may be crucial in helping to manage their mental health. This can be from meeting friends, exercising or phoning home to talk to family members.

"Another factor is time management, which is essential for all students especially when exams or assignments are imminent. Planning a revision timetable and sticking to it can greatly reduce stress and should take into account the individuals’ best time of day for studying.

"Another factor involves drugs and alcohol and young people should be aware of the dangers of using alcohol and illegal drugs, which can have a serious effect on mental and physical health.

"Physical health is important and it’s really important to get a good night sleep as well as a healthy diet. Exercising regularly can help boost positive mental wellbeing as well; everyone generally feels better if they can get a break in the fresh air and walking is a really good way to clear your head.

"Mindfulness training for students is also a really good way to help you remain calm, sustain your attention, and be able to focus. It does this by helping you to pay attention to the present moment through simple breathing and meditation practices which increase awareness of thoughts and feelings so as to reduce stress and anxiety and boost levels of attention and concentration.

"There are some free mindfulness apps available on mobile phones, so it is worth trying it out to see if it works for you.

"Giving yourself some self-care and looking after your physical health will have a big impact on being able to maintain concentration when studying and will generally make you feel better in yourself.

"Finally, getting the right support in place is extremely important for young people."

Self-Harmony at Swindon Mind counsels clients from 16 years of age upwards and people can self refer by downloading a self-referral form on our website, or be referred by their GPs or other mental health organisation within the borough of Swindon.